Stockland takes on the traditional retirement village model with the launch of the new Aspire villages for downsizers.
Major property developer Stockland has sought to separate itself from the pack with a new retirement living approach which allows downsizers to buy into an over 55s community and own the title of their homes.
Stockland has unveiled the Aspire range of seniors living projects, which seek to directly compete with the traditional retirement village model.
“With only five per cent of Australia’s population currently choosing to live within a retirement village, we were inspired to create a new product to broaden our customer reach and meet the needs of the modern-day retiree,” said David Allington, WA Regional Manager, Retirement Living at Stockland.
“Many customers have expressed they love the idea of living in a community with like-minded people and shared community services in a well-connected location, however were wanting more choice and flexibility in their ownership arrangement of the property.”
To date, two Aspire villages have been announced – one in NSW and the other in Western Australia – but Stockland has told www.Downsizing.com.au and Seniors Housing Online that the concept could be expanded across Australia.
Under the Aspire model, investors or owner-occupiers can buy homes in the projects. Stamp duty is payable, along with regular levies, and the homes are generally available under community title which allows them to be bought and sold on the open market.
This land title arrangement means that, unlike the situation in just over 50 per cent of retirement villages in Australia, the owner keeps all the capital gain. What’s more, there are no exit fees, which are charged in a further 21 per cent of retirement villages.
There is, though, an age restriction on the occupants of the home.
At the 198 hectare Aspire development at Marsden Park in north-western Sydney, known as Aspire at Elara, at least one of the occupants of each home must be 55 years or older, or disabled. The property has been approved under NSW’s Seniors Housing State Environmental Planning Policy, which mandates these age restrictions.
The $65 million development, which has 114 single-storey homes starting at $655,000, is now under construction. The first residents are expected to move in by mid-2018.
Meanwhile, at the Aspire development 23km south of Perth, known as Aspire at Calleya, at least one resident must be 55 years or older, and they do NOT need to be retired. Occupants can also be disabled (with no age requirement).
The occupancy restrictions are a condition of the project’s planning approval, enforceable by the local council.
The Aspire at Calleya development will include 144 single storey-homes and is planned for completion in 2021, with the first residents expected to move in by November 2018. Click here to view the listing.
The homes in both developments will be specially designed to support ageing in place with features like wider hallways and doorways. They also both feature a luxurious clubhouse for the exclusive use of residents and their friends, including a resort style pool as well as a bar, lounge, gym and billiard room.
“Aspire was created for customers who want to downsize from the big family home but are seeking an alternative to moving into an apartment or a traditional retirement living village, allowing them to own the title of their homes, keep all capital gains and sell with complete flexibility,” Mr Allington told www.Downsizing.com.au and Seniors Housing Online.
Mr Allington said the Aspire range was not covered by relevant State retirement village legislation, but by local planning laws.
“Each State and Territory have differing planning regulations which we are working through to potentially roll out Aspire nationally,” Mr Allington said.
While there are clearly advantages for downsizers from the Aspire model, there are also issues for buyers to consider. This includes the fact there is no guaranteed buy-back price, which is available in around 80 per cent of retirement villages in Australia.
In addition, State Government stamp duty is payable, which may not be the case when it comes to a retirement village occupancy agreement.
The rollout of the Aspire series comes at an interesting time for the Australian retirement living industry.
Kathryn Greiner, who has been asked by the NSW Government to undertake a review of retirement villages legislation, said recently that the traditional retirement village model was ripe for disruption.
“Are people really going to retirement villages in the future? People will be looking for carers in their home; maybe retirement villages as a great idea is over,” she told a Property Council forum in late February.
“You run a reputational risk because retirement living is seen as a property play dressed up as care. It’s a property play, nothing wrong with that. But don’t pretend it’s a care factor issue.
“It’s about providing accommodation at a price that people can afford, whether it’s the high end, the middle or the low. Call it for what it is, deal with it transparently.”
Ms Greiner’s report has been prepared but is yet to be released.
Amanda Graham is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Downsizing.com.au and Seniors Housing Online.